The secret lives of batteries

I remember back in the exciting days of seventh grade when the Prius was first released, all the educated haters said hybrid vehicles’ environmental claims were hypocritical falsehoods because the dirty things in the unrecyclable batteries would pollute the ground in landfills just as much as traditional gas-powered cars do in normal existence. From what I have gathered now, this may not be entirely true anymore since the majority of EVs now use lithium-ion batteries that do not rely on the environmentally offensive ingredients of nickel and cobalt that require illicit-sounding processes like strip mining.

Using the tiresome contention of cynics and skeptics everywhere (i.e., haters) everything manufactured by humans is environmentally harmful and if we really wanted to be blamelessly sustainable we’d all wear clothes made of hemp and be vegetarians. Unfortunately this kind of defeatist thinking is useless to anyone in any practical way unless for some strange reason you’re intentionally trying to refine a very sad view of the world. Anyway, if we’re going to require our modern comforts of living, at the very least we can adhere to the green precepts of reduce, reuse and recycle. The articles I have read about lithium-ion technology shows that they can be repurposed after their life in the car is over as external power storage.

According to this article, the environmental impact of EVs versus internal combustion engines is still primarily concerned with the operation stage of its life, which is to say, when it’s being driven and powered. For EVs, “The environmental burden…depends mainly on the choice of electricity production.” Another way of saying that an electric vehicle is only as clean as the grid it’s plugged into, because if the sources of electricity are dirty like coal, or unrenewable like nuclear, then the impact of an EV is going to be significantly higher.

"Grey gold"

“Grey gold”

2 responses to “The secret lives of batteries

  1. But if you check the studies done by Union of COncerned Scientists and others, they will point out that, even if the grid is dirty coal, EVs are still cleaner than gasoline cars. Why? Because EVs are so much more efficient in the use of energy. But, as we speak, the grid is getting cleaner every day:less coal, more solar, wind and natural gas is being used to make our electricity. And among those who buy EVs, they choose, as I do, to use solar and wind whenever that option is available. I buy 100% of my electricity for my home and EV from wind power, from Check it !

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